tv Charlie Rose WHUT February 16, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EST
>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. tonight on president's day we'll talk about race in america from the pioneers of the civil rights movement to president obama with photographer platon, new york editor david remnick, congressman james clyburn and eugene robinson, the columnist for the "washington post." >> i'm not a scholar, i'm a student, and these pictures are evidence of me learning on the job. for me, i wanted to show this as a personal people's movement, a sense of community. and what we wanted to do was to bring together people from the civil rights movement and in many cases take the back to the locations where major events happened and changed their lives. >> this is a presidency that began on the most mag any sent day, truly a transformational
day. the great fear is that the greatest moment of his presidency might have been the first day. >> i think that we have decided for some reason that race is too volatile. i don't think it is. i think it's condition that we all live with. we know what the history has been in the country and i think there are enough adults in our society and those who aren't, have enough maturity for us to accept what has been in the past and learn from it. >> i think we're going to make progress in our difficult worse than it owe sang cat i can conflict filled way. and it's going to be going to be painful and people are going to say the wrong thing because it's impossible to say the right thing. but i think we can see which way
the arc of history has been bending. >> rose: we conclude with actor christoph waltz. he's nominated for an oscar in "inglourious basterds". >> he plucked me out of negativity. he plucked me o of self-pitying, he plucked me out of feeling victimized. all these self-indulgent actor things that drive some of us into alcoholism. >> rose: a look back at the pioneers of the civil rights movement and the state of race relations today, plus a conversation with actor christoph waltz ♪ ♪
if you've had a coke in the last 20 years, ( screams ) you've had a hand in giving college scholarships... and support to thousands of our nation's... most promising students. ♪ ( coca-cola 5-note mnemonic ) captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york citythis is charlie rose. >> rose: the "new yorker" magazine has a remarkable series of photographs about the men and women who made the civil rights revolution. many of them are old today, but
their courage and what they did to change this country stands. these remarkable photographs will remind you of these people. we begin with the photographer, platon. i'm pleased to have him on this program to talk about these remarkable photographs. welcome. >> good to be here, charlie. >> rose: tell me about this assignment and how you approached it. >> i honestly feel that i've spent 20 years practicing for this assignment. i'm not a scholar, i'm a student. and these pictures are evidence of me learning on the job. for me, i wanted to show this as a personal people's movement. a sense of community. and what we wanted to do was to bring together people from the civil rights movement and in many cases take them back to their locations where major events happened and changed their lives. but that even wasn't enough for me.
that doesn't make a good picture just photographing it. i had to somehow connect with them on a very basic, human level. and to sort of connect with a human condition. and i've always found that there's a magical moment that i was particularly searching for here where people feel pain, they feel loss and fear and suffering and that is challenged by a sense of courage, by a sense of optimism, hope, and love. and it's that kind of internal dialogue that i was really trying to capture on film. >> rose: how do you do it in terms of the relationship between photographer and subject? >> it's really hard. it's really hard. it's kind of like your job, but a visual version. and everyone comes with fears and you have to win their trust. so there's no formula with people. so i've learned that i have to really reach out as an honest person and say "we need to
collaborate, i can't do this on my own, i need your help." and as i say, you just find your feet. i get terribly nerus before every shoot. every shoot. whether i'm photographer my mum or whether i'm photographer ago president or these illustris people here. >> rose: the story is that occasionally you would sit on the floor. >> always. it's better for me to be the underdog. they will sit on a stool ngor a chair and the worst thing i can do is peer over them with my camera. so the first thing i do is sit on the floor and talk to them and i'm below them now so they don't feel so threatened. and body language and just general being aware of human feelings is really my job. >> rose: show me some of the photographs in a that are meaningful to you and the stories you have about them. >> one particular one was the little rock nine. >> rose: may i hold them up? >> please do. this was very challenging. i was terrified before this moment.
they... to my knowledge, they've only been together five times before this picture as an entire group since leaving school. and so this was a happening. and i wanted to show a sense of love force or soul force. and there was a moment where they all were holding hands and i managed to get it on film and one lady called elizabeth eck ford, she had her chin up quite high and i kept saying "please lower your chin to be in lain with everybody else." and she said "young man, please don't ask me to bow my head." she said i hold my head up high because i'm proud of what who i am and what we did." so at that point they all raised their chin and that's the picture. >> rose: great story. this one, john lewis. >> well, having met him i know that he's a deeply humble man and i don't want to embarrass him, but i should say that i idolize this man. and i see him as a huge national
treasure. so it was david remnick's idea, my editor-in-chief at the magazine, to photographer him at the lincoln memorial. but obviously as everybody knows it's a giant, gothic building. and it towers above anybody standing nearby. so i wanted to readdress the balance and i brought the buildings smaller and made him bigger and what you have in that picture is two national monuments standing side by side. >> rose: and this one? well, this was very challenging but very moving. reverend shuttlesworth who i think of as one of the fear leg warriors of the civil rights movement, had a stroke a few years ago and is in a wheelchair. so he traveled across the country. he hasn't traveled for a long, long time and he decided that he really wanted to be in this project so he traveled across the country. we photographered all the
gentlemen at the ebenezer baptist church, which was martin luther king's church. and i was worried that his wheelchair would become some kind of bareier to find an intimacy. but actually, it became the very thing that brought the love together and all the other gentlemen gathered around and lent over his chair. and, of course, me being on the floor, on the street, as i explained to you, i asked as men of god if they would say a quiet prayer for me and they all went into this beautiful moment of prayer and that was the picture. >> rose: and here? >> a very painful subject matter. this is mr. and mrs. mcnair and they lost their daughter in the 16th street baptist church bombing in birmingham, alabama, when she was a child at sunday school. and obviously we wanted to photograph them at the church it never snows in alabama.
and this day like, you know, the snow came dn and it made it moody and guantanamo i can and they're an elderly couple. i felt bad about bringing them outside to pose outside the church. and as they came outside, they really wanted to do this i asked them to show me without words how they feel about what happened to them. and mr. mcnair is a very proud man and his wife is very in touch with her feelings and there's a beautiful moment where she becomes so sense was with her husband and i think the tenderness actually makes the picture more devastating to see what people like the klan did to this family. >> rose: when you finish this problem, what do you say that you learned that you did not know? what did you come away with as the searing lesson of the experience of these people. >> i learned so much and i'm cad
different. c.t. vivien, one of the gentlemen from s.c.l.s. in that picture, he told me, he said platon, my brother reached for the stars everyday and harry ben belafonte said something his mother used to tell him. he said "never go to bed at night knowing there's something you could have done in the day." and above all if i have some talent, no matter how small it is it's time now to do something important with it and something that hopefully makes even a small difference is really, really important to me, fundamentally. and it's no longer good enough just to photograph people of power, people of celebrity. this is what's changed in my mind so i have to now think very hard about the time i have left and the talent i have that, if i have any. it's good to be used in a good way. >> rose: platon, thank you so
much. we will talk more about civil rights and civil rights revolution and the people that shaped it in just a moment. stay with us. >> rose: having seen those remarkable photographs, we continue our conversation about race in america from the civil rights movement to the obama era. joining me, david remnick, editor of the "new yorker" magazine. democrat james clyburn, democrat of south carolina, the third ranking democrat of the house. also in washington, eugene robinson, columnist for the "washington post" and pulitzer prize recipient. i am pleased to have all of them here to talk about this very important subject. where do we stand in the matter of race? gym and gene, i want to begin with this question. people say we're not in the post-racial era. some had hoped that we would with the obama election move
towards that. help me understand what the post-racial era looks like? >> well, i suspect that the post-racial era will only come when we don't find a need to have a discussion about these things. the fact of the matter is we are not in a post-racial era and it will be a long time getting there, we are in an era which hopefully we can begin for the first time to discuss the issue of race in a way that will allow us to grow beyond it. i often talk about a young lady, rowena tavarez who, down in charleston years ago, told me she thought south carolina and charleston suffered because when it came to the issue of race, people would stop talking. and she didn't think that we could ever get to be where we
needed to be unless we could have an honest discussion of the issue of race and come to grips with what we need to do to get beyond it. we keep postponing that discussion and avoiding it and you don't tolerate people by avoiding them. you tolerate them by getting to know them. >> rose: why do we keep avoiding it? >> i don't know. i think that we have decided for some reason that race is too volatile. i don't think it is. i think it's condition that we all live with. we know what the history has been in the country and i think there are enough adults in our society and those who aren't have enough maturity for us to accept what has been in the past and learn from it. because if you don't, you will
find yourself repeating some of those things only because you aren't aware of what the ramifications were and could be. >> rose: gene, if we want to reach a post-racial era and we have to go through what congressman clyburn just suggested, how do we do that? what's the agenda for doing that >> well, you know, i think we do have a discussion about race in this country, it's just that we have it in an episodic frustrating,addening and incomplete way. we talk about race when something happens to make us talk about race. so when skip gates from harvard was arrested on his porch by the white officer in cambridge, we talked about race for a couple of weeks until the president and skip and the officer had a beer and then we could stop talking about it and everybody breathed
a sigh of relief. but i don't believe that we fail to progress at all. i don't believe that we fail to have a discussion, it's just that we do it in our own idiosyncratic way, full of friction and, you know, we're very dispew tashs about race and we don't really want to talk about it but we do. and i think the evidence of that is... compare the america that i grew up in in south rolina to the america of today and it's certainly not perfect, we certainly haven't dealt with our 400-year history of race in this country but it's a lot better than it was. >> rose: for me in north carolina as well. >> you know, charlie, when i interviewed the president it was very clear. we had a conversation about this. and then i was outside the office after it was all done and i was talking with david axelrod and the president came out and he wanted to talk about this again and the point that he
wanted to make was... had precisely everything to do with the so-called conversation around skip gates and the cambridge police officer. it became stunningly clear to him that the idea of speaking off the cuff about race was useless because of the baggage that one side brings to it, which is the notion of that that race is tied up with police brutality and the other side thinking it has to do with a disrespect for law enforcement. it's so electric and so... it leads nowhere that you could see that the president obama thought this whole episode... he was sorry it ever happened. >> rose: he won't speak off the cuff about race or what? >> he feels it's only effective to talk about race when he can have a half an hour like the speech in philadelphia. there he can have a balanced, a nuanceed presentation. but these kind of off-the-cuff incidents, i think gene is being
polite when he calls it idiosyncratic. it can be much worse. >> i kind of despair that at any point, now or in the near future or far future we're all going to sit down around the campfire and have a national discussion about race. i wish we would. but i just don't think that's going to happen. i think we're going to make progress in our difficult worse than idiosyncratic conflict-filled way. and it's going to be messy and sometimes it's going to be painful and people are going to say the wrong thing because it's impossible to say the right thing. but i think we can see which way the arc of history has been bending. i think it has bent in the right direction, which we get there faster. but this seems to be the way we're fated to progress. >> rose: is the president doing all that he should do because of the bully pulpit he has?
>> you know, i talked to a lot of people, a lot of african americans before the inauguration about their expectations of president obama and the subject of race and i think that near-unanimous view was that there was a limited amount that the first black prident was going to be able to do in the united states of america explicitly about race. that in a sense it was... well, you can't say it's a handicap, but in a sense it limited the degree to which he could really talk about race per se. and i think that's probably true. and that's maybe unfortunate, but what would his poll numbers be like, do you think, if at every potential occasion he were to raise the subject of race? i think that... >> i think that what we have to
recognize that the roles that the entities play in this issue, when it comes to race, i tend to respond to the issues legislatively. the president has to respond administrative or executively. the fact of the matter is, there are others who have roles to play. the civil rights groups have roles to play. and i think that what happens today is that we often confuse those roles and the expectations are based upon our own experiences. now i can appreciate the president taking the positions that he took as it related to race. a lot of people with other backgrounds and experiences may not be able to appreciate it as much. and so i know why he's doing it the way he's doing it and i also know that it is necessary for
him to make sure that he will be able to deal with issues as president of the united states without being accused of playing the race card. >> rose: right. >> well, the issues have changed we're no longer talking about access to lunch counters or water fountains or even universities. we have a president who exemplifies some of this change. his access to elite institutions in this country radically different than his predecessors from the civil rights movements who went to divinity schools or segregated schools. but i think in his mind and in most people's mind that if he is able to make an impact on big social issues like health care, for example, that african americans will benefit disproportionately because there are more poorer african americans than in some groups. and what's been blocking that are all kinds of political factors, to say nothing of the innate structural problem of the
senate and the way representation occurs in this... in our system, which is all boll luxed up. >> rose: how is he different because-- and you're doing the book-- because of the uniqueness of his own experience and how does he see his opportunity? >> there's no doubt that barack obama presents a different face to t public than earlier leaders who did not get as much traction with the electorate. and he has to be very careful. he is the president of the united states. he's not the president of black america or all of just african americans. so he tends to put these problems in terms of class even more than race. he's talking... he can't talk about just african americans, he has to talk about the poor. and a lot of his critics think that for a variety of reasons he hasn't tked about the poor even enough in this last year. >> rose: right. >> but, you know, i think there's something else here, too. let's take, for example, the recession that we are currently
find ourselves coming out of. i recall when we first started dealing with that, we started talking about what do you do to stimulate the economy? well, you've got to pump money into it, it must be timely, it must be targeted, and it must be temporary. well, if you have a community-- as the black community-- suffering with recession, 16% unemployment, it seems to me that you've got to target what you do in order for it to be effective. you're not going to just deal with these communities overall and think that the tar getting that needs to be done will just automatically get done. and so i would differ with the president in this respect. if you are doing health care reform and that should have an impact on the african american
community unevenly but it won't have if you don't target it. and so if you have all the monies going into health care reform for bottled up, if you please, in certain communities, as you've had other resources, then you aren't going to do what needs to be done to make african american communities well or to make them more viable when it comes to economics. you have to target these things. and i think that that's what's missing right now. >> rose: so what would be your priority? >> my priority would be to really look at the economic status of various communities throughout our country and begin to target resources to those communities. the extonight which those communities are occupied by african americans, that's one thing. you won't be targeting racially, but you will be targeting them based upon the overall
demographics that exist in community. educationally, health care, economically, target the resources where the needs are. >> rose: have you ever had a conversation about race with president obama. >> ier be viewed him right after he delivered his speech at the hundredth anniversary convention of the n.a.a.c.p. and we talked about some of the generational issues. the fact that if it hasn't already occurred, soon there will be more african americans who have no memory of jim crow segregation than those who do, those of us who do. and we talked about the trends that are transforming parts of black america but not all. and e necessity to look after people who are potentially being left behind and communities that
are potentially being left behind. we talked about his calls for personal responsibility, which was a message he delivered to the n.a.a.c.p. he also mentioned that when he calls for personal responsibility, that seems to make the headlines, but the rest of the speech also talked about what government should and must do in order to give disadvantaged communities, disadvantaged black communities, the opportunities that have been denied them for so long. so it was a pretty wide-ranging conversation and these are obviously issues that he thinks about a lot. >> rose: what do you think the agenda ought to be as we come to the end of this segment? >> well, his agenda is just so stalled. look at the things that are just stalled in congress. primarily health care, but there's so many other things that it's got to be deeply
frustrating. he's not the first president to be frustrated in this way. it's got to be deeply, deeply ustrating to come to a point when you thought you had health care, which is i would have thought a magnificent achievement not just for black america but for everybody and just to see it stalled in this morass. to expect him to do... to... i just don't know where he's going to b on this situation. it is tragic. and to think that there are going to be ambitious legislative achievements when this one is stalled at this point is really a lot to hope for. >> rose: do you think that he wanted to be-- and this may be an easy answer-- a transformational president? >> absolutely. i remember the first time i interviewed him, which was in 2007 just as he was deciding to run for president. he said... i forget what hotel in washington, it has portraits of all the presidents down stairs and he says "you can really only pick out five or six
there that have gigantic impact and it's not worth being the other kind." after all, barack obama's not somebody without a certain sense of self-possession and ego. he not only wanted to be president before he even announced, he wanted to be a great president. and now he finds himself really in a fix. >> rose: and do you think greatness is at terrific? >> absolutely. and you could argue about whose fault that is. but this is a presidency that began on the most magnificent day. truly a transformational day. the great fear is that the greatest moment of his presidency might have been the first day. >> rose: congressman clyburn? >> i do believe that president obama can be and will be a transformatial president. i think that all of us knee lyndon johnson was a transformational president. but he did not reach that point. he did not get to where he needed to go until he decided that he had to break with his past. he had to get out of his comfort
zone. there are a lot of peopleho call themselves southerners who felt betrayed because lyndon johnson saw what was necessary in order to be transformational. and that's why we got the 64 civil rights act and the '65 voting rights act. those wsh transformational things that caused lyndon johnson to have to break out of the comfort zone of being a southerner and being accepted by those people that he had sort of paled around with as a member of the united states senate. >> rose: jim clyburn, thank you again. gene robinson, thank you. >> thank you. >> rose: david remnick, the "new yorker," the civil rights, a portfolio. you have seen some of these photographs, a remarkable series of photographs. you can go on and on and it's a virtual history. an important history of the united states of america and people who were in the front
lines of change. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: as the countdown the academy awards continues, we bring you another oscar moment. >> i think of scrap iron as being one of those journeyman fighters, the kind of guy who was real a good fighter at one point. he probably could have been a worthy contender but as time goes on he took too many shots to the head and then you become just that guy who, if your young fighter can get past, probably has a future. and the relationship between he and frankie goes back to probably scrap's last fight. >> rose: christoph waltz is here. for 30 years he worked as an actor mostly in german
television with no major english credits to his name. then along came quentin tarantino and his unconventional world war ii film "inglourious basterds." tarantino cast waltz as hans landa, a multilingual nazi colonel who considers himself a detective. here is what i mean. take a look. >> you're the jew hunter? >> i'm a detective. a damn good detective. finding people is my specialty so naturally i work for the nazis finding people and, yes, some of them were jews, but jew hunter? just a name that stuck. >> well, you do have to admit, it is catchy. >> do you control the nicknames your enemies bestow on you? the apache and the little man? >> the german's nickname for me is the little man? >> and as if to make my point, i'm a little surprised how tall you were in real life. i knew you were a little fellow but not circus little. >> rose: he's already won the best actor prize at cannes, a
golden globe as well as the screen actor's guild. he's also nominated for an academy award for best supporting actor. i'm pleased to have him here on this program this evening. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: you get a script. tell me where yourcting life was when you got this script from quentin tarantino. >> yeah, you know, for the region it was satisfyingly okay. for me as a person it was frustratingly not okay. meaning that germany is very much of a... or the german speaking area if you look outside the theater... because theater is really still very alive and every bigger town has subsidized theater. so i did theater for many, many years. in terms of movies, it's
somewhat limited. so most of it is television. not real all the time the most inspired television so, you know, you get a certain... reach a certain limit in terms of what you can sink your teeth in and from then on it becomes a little tough. >> rose: how did you come to the attention of one of america's most prominent directors? >> that's a mystery. >> rose: it's a mystery? >> in a way. there's a casting director in berlin and she does most of the international productions there. and she go people together. because quentin being quentin said these german parts will be played by german or at least german speaking... native-speaking actors and the french part will be played by french and we will not do the usual blue contact lenses bleached hair funny accent business. >> rose: (laughs) yes. >> and so i was one of the
german actors to be invited to a casting. >> rose: and then you read the script. >> and then... well, i kind of weighed the script in my hand at first. >> rose: (laughs) the whole thing. >> the whole thing. heavy. yes. and i scribbled titled page. handwritten. it's fantastic, you know? because you get a feeling of quentin as a person right away. >> rose: and then the audition. >> and then the audition. first of all... i read the script and that wasn't all that easy and i reread it and then the audition. and you expect this saneny enfant terrible wild kind of guy. >> rose: mr. tarantino? >> mr. tarantino. everything we know about mr. tarantino. and you get in the room and there's this refined gentleman. immensely polite. asks you to sit down and converses funny, inspired.
and then asks-- asks whether you would mind to read and i thought... you're kidding. >> rose: (laughs) >> i said, well, no, actually i'm quite prepared to read. >> rose: (laughs) yes. >> and he plays all the parts. except for the ones that you're reading for and we went through the whole script. >> rose: the whole sdplipt >> the whole script. i mean the whole part. >> exactly. >> and then, you know, it was one thing led into another and he was playing all the things and i thought, well, that's remarkable. why, i thought, is he sucking his thumb when he played the farmer? until i discovered he was playing pipe. pipe smoking. >> rose: (laughs) yes. so what you needed to know about this kharkerer the was all there? the script? >> yeah. but not in my head at the
audition because there's so much in that script. i could still be working at it. >> rose: could raw you really? >> you know, it really affords study. really... you know, bum cheek on chair. kind of sit and study what he means, what he hints at, where he's coming from, where it could lead you. and, you know, tiny little details give you the... you can play bloodhound for months on end and always discover somethin new. really when you watch the movie you can watch it... i've seen it nine times now and i still discover new things. and i really know the stuff. >> rose: new things about... >> new things about another level, another possibility, another facet, another twist, another thought, another inspiration. something that has escaped your attention before. and you can do that with all his movies. >> rose: what is it that you
think you were able to accomplish in this performance? >> i think my accomplishment could possibly... i don't know, you know, i'm just... >> rose: i just want you to help me understand. this is not for you to toot your horn. >> no. but i... you know, i think i was really, rlly interested in one what's behind the lines. there is so much, so much in this person's mind and he gets so much of it on to the page. i was just interested in finding out. >> rose: so what was in quentin tarantino's mind. >> well, the thing about language, for exple. this guy speaks several languages. there are a few people in this world who speak several languages. >> rose: like you. (laughs) >> it's not such an accomplishment, really. but, you know, what does it mean to speak a lanage? to what aim and what goals does
a person employ the usage of language? and on what level does he communicate? is it just verlization off quo tidian necessitys or i lushly using language to put ideas into other people minds? is language like something that creates realty ors language something that adapts to rheal any and i think, you know, quentin being a poet uses language to create. so this character does the same thing. >> rose: it is almost as if you understood as much about quentin tarantino as you understood about the character because the two come together. >> well, i don't know whether i understand it. but i certainly try to figure it out. and, you know, when i first got the script, i couldn't really make sense of it.
>> rose: yeah. >> and i thought... i thought maybe the right approach for me would be to learn about quentin. learn about the source. >> rose: yes. yes. >> so i really studied the movies. >> rose: you went... and chronologically, too. >> in chronological order. because, you know, a true artist that he is, but even for possibly even lesser artists would be subjected to, you know, an organic development. and definitely if you start with "reservoir dogs," you can see that every movie is another development, another developmental phase in this person. so i arrived finally after some effort at death proof. >> rose: yes. >> and i haven't seen... that was the only one that i hadn't seen before.
so i watched "death proof" somewhat preoccupied because i heard a lot about it. and interestingly enough, that's when it clicked. i kind of... >> rose: you got it. >> i got it. at least i had the feeling. >> rose: now, you said before that even you... you utilized in this some of the training you'd had with stella adler. >> yeah. ied that good fortune of attending classes with her. but not the acting classes b the script interpretation. >> rose: yes. >> and i was one of the... if not the biggest impression in my training and i claim that this was the most important thing in my training. because it taught me that approach. she said "an enemy of the people" by inseine, you start with the first word. "henrick ibsen." that's where you start. before you open the script.
so you got some energy right there. >> rose: right. >> we see a slightly old man and a slightly younger woman. so that gives you that energy already a certain spin. >> rose: right. >> knowing what was going on before we see... we know-- we know as an audience-- that he knows something. >> rose: yeah. >> we know that she fears something. >> rose: so there's tension. >> we know the power... the proportions of power. we know that he's the powerful one and shemight end up being a victim. she's not a victim yet. are we about to witness a victimization? are we about to witness exercise of power? well, we expect it given the
uniform and given her appearance. given the geographical circumstances. yet that expectation does not materialize. it's sort of a social exchange. like, you know, a gentleman and lay any a cafe. so there's already, you know, like a heap of stuff to work on as an actor. >> rose: here is what quentin tarantino has said. if you had not accepted the role he might not... he would have given serious thought as to what to do about the film. because it's such a central role. he had a huge star in brad pitt and others but the protagonist, somebody said great conflict is two characters. >> well, i can only say that's
>> rose: fair enough. >> so what did you learn from this? >> from this i learned that... i learned... well, everything was learning, you know. i relearned the enthusiasm and kind of... i hesitate to say it but why should i hesitate? love for my craft. >> rose: exactly right! speak to that. because that's the best thing. what do you mean? >> i mean you cannot do this without, as ray bradbury put it, zest and gusto. >> rose: yeah. >> and that you can learn from quentin. you know, i was... i was always trying to pro seat with conviction but conviction alone, you know, conviction very often took me the wrong
direction-- sideways. quentin's conviction is forward. but the zest and the gusto the curiosity is without parallel. >> rose: we're going to see what he said about this next. what he said about the character. but it... when you read this script, when you got this part, when you began filming this performance yosaid to yourself "this is why i wanted to be an actor." >> yeah, i said that to quentin on the third day. i remember exactly up there in the hills next to the farmhouse and i said'm grateful of the reason you remind me of why i became an actor. >> rose: let's show that scene first. show the scene up in the hills. >> if one were to determine what attribute the german people share with the beast it would be the predatory instinct of a
hawk. but if one were to determine what attribute it is jews share with the beast it would be that of the rat. if a rat were to walk in here right now as i'm talking, would you feed it with the source of your delicious milk? >> probably not. >> i didn't think so. you don't like them. you don't really know why you don't like them all you know is that you find them repulsive. consequently, a german soldier conducts a search of a house suspected of hiding jews. where does the hawk look? he looks in the barn, he looks in the attic, he looks in the cellar, he looks everywhere. he would hide. but there's so many places that would never occur to a hawk to hide. all right, the reason the fuhrer has brought me here and placed me in french cow country today is because it does occur to me
because i'm aware what tremendous feats human beings are capable of once they abandon dignity. >> that's dramatic writing. >> rose: roll tape. this is quentin tarantino on this program earlier talking about writing this character. here he is. >> when i finished that script, i knew that colonel landa was one of the greatest characters i ever read and one of the greatest characters i will ever write. >> rose: that's played by kris of waltz, the german actor. the german actor who is not at the height of his career. >> he's a t.v. actor in germany. >> rose: in fact, he said at kaens he basically... in a very emotional moment he said you had given back his career and you said something interesting, too. you gave me my movie. >> yeah, no. that's very true. >> rose: that dialogue could hardly be written, could it? >> no, no. it's a thing... like i was saying before when i twle script. i just knew that landa was
this... you know, i'm aware enough to know one of my best creations i've ever written and he was one of them. >> rose: so he says one of the best creations he's ever written. you never said, though, you gave me back my career. >> no, i didn't say that at all. >> rose: what did you say? >> i said you gave me back my vocation. >> rose: a very important difference. >> absolutely. >> rose: a vocation is what you do. a career is what people... >> a vocation is what you do if you're lucky because, you know, you feel that call. but that does not necessarily mean that you actually get to fulfill that. but that's exactly what i mean, you know. quentin gave me the chance to actually live that call. it's kind of high faluting but true. >> rose: but true. you feel it deeply here. >> absolutely. >> rose: roll tape. this is another part of the conversation. this is really interesting because we're talking about collaboration: director, script,
actor. here it is. >> everything he does is some version of an interrogation and every piece of interrogation is a piece of theater or a mind game with the participant. i'll just give you an example. and there was also... it helps describe how me and christoph worked on the film. just to give you an idea. in the script, in the opening scene when he's interrogating this french farmer, the french farmer takes out a pipe and starts smoking it. at some point landa says "can i take out my snipe" and he pulls out this cal bash, a pipe that sherlock holmes smokes and it's a very funny thing when it happens. >> rose: and he drinks milk. >> he's a dairy farmer so he drinks milk as opposed to wine. so he has this pipe. and i twle in the script and i had a couple more moments where i had landa take out the pipe and smoke and think. so it was obviously... it was landa's pipe. but i started thinking about it more and more as pre-production was going on and i had dinner
with christoph and i said "let me ask you a question, in the script it implies that this is definitely landa's pipe and he uses it to think. but let me ask you a question, what if landa doesn't smoke a pipe? he know it is farmer smokes a pipe. and so at a person point he brings out this pipe and what pipe does he bring snout he brings out the sherlock holmes pipe. one, you can say it's a sexual thing because my pipe is bigger than yours. and the other thing, you can say "i know you're lying and i got you. i've got the sherlock holmes pipe. so maybe he doesn't smoke a pipe at all. it's simply just interrogation technique to throw the farmer... send him more to hell. and so what do you think kris of? he goes "he doesn't smoke a pipe at all, it is simply an act of theater." >> rose: had to be fun, didn't it? >> i love this man. >> rose: so it changed what? so here you are... have received all of this acclaim. it's renewed your faith in your
vocation. >> i was getting comfortable with... with... well, that would be a bit harsh to say but i almost said i was getting comfortable with resignation. >> rose: acceptance? >>ell, no. >> rose: no, never acceptance. >> no, like edging towards bitterness. >> rose: (laughs) >> but still being stubborn enough to hang on. and, you know, quentin sort of plucked me out of that. he plucked me out of negativity. you know, he plucked me out of sort of self-pitying. he plucked me out of feeling victimized. all these self-indulgent actor
things that, you know, drive some of us into alcoholism. but there was no danger for me. thank god. but, you know, becoming an actor is one thing and being an actor another. and living the life of an actor yet another and making a living yet another aspect of the same thing, and why would it be... in acting why would it be different from any other thing you know? yeah, you enter with conviction and zest and gusto and only a very, very few are granted the... to sustain that. so i was trying to find outlets. i was trying to do this and that
and trying not to really go over the edge and really become bitter. you know, in the course of 30 something years, things accumulate. it's natural and it's self-evidence, in a way. >> rose: we're all glad you did. (laughs) >> well, thank you. >> rose: that you met quentin tarantino. that you had a chance to show remarkable... everything. just an amazing performance. >> thank you. >> rose: i'm not the first to say that but i thank you for come to this table. >> thanks very much. >> rose: christoph waltz nominated for best supporting actor for his performance in "inglourious basterds." thank you for joining us. see you next time.